Idea shamelessly stolen from Bre (and you should go look at her picks, because they’re great).
Hunter’s Oath, by Michelle West
“A near skeletal boy peeked out from around a shadowed corner.”
So few people know if this pair of books (the second is Hunter’s Death). One of the best epic fantasies I’ve ever read, with so many gorgeous things that I love. Evayne, who is still the best and most tragic time-travelling character I know (well, excepting perhaps the Doctor). The dogs. The streetrat girl who became so very important. The thief, torn from his goddess. The brash hunter and his soft-speaking companion. I love them all.
The Gandalara Cycle, by Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron
“You understand what you must do.”
Another little-known and out of print series. This one taught me that “fantasy” wasn’t all swords and sorcery, and took me on a desert journey that turned my understanding of epic fantasy upside down. Also? Giant telepathic saber-toothed lions ridden by the characters. Win.
Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
“A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the tree, but the young girl seated beneath it did not seem to notice.”
A book that found me at the exact and precise moment I needed it to. A book about a shy, sweet, emotional girl who loved to read being whisked away to become so important that she saved her kingdom? I can’t imagine why I loved it so much. *wink*
Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
“When the storm broke, rain pounding down in great sheets out of a black and unforgiving sky, Claire Hansen had to admit she wasn’t surprised; it had been that kind of evening.”
The first book that taught me just how funny a fantasy could be and reminded me that not all stories were EPIC fantasy. Some of them had fun, too. I wish I liked the main character a little more, but the side characters were just lovely, from the cat to the French ghost to the clean-obsessed man to Hell in the basement. (Hell talks to itself.)
The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett
“Some things start before other things.”
The book that reminded adult me that YA books were still amazing and worth reading. Tiffany Aching is young, but so incredibly pragmatic that I can’t help but love her. From the moment she used her baby brother as bait so that she could use a frying pan to attack a dangerous water spirit, I knew I wasn’t going to put that book down till I was done with it.
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
“Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.”
I found these books early, then re-found them again as an adult. Fairy tale tropes turned on their ear and a female protagonist who was not only intelligent and self-sufficient, she knew what she wanted and she went for it. I fell in love, not just with these stories, but with this author’s remarkable voice.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”
When Steven and I met, he only read comic books. I gave him this book, and he became a Reader. What more can you possibly ask of any novel than that?
Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon and The Callahan Touch by Spider Robinson
“Callahan’s Place was pretty lively that night.”
“Opposites make good companions sometimes.”
Two quotes/books provided because I believe The Callahan Touch is one of the best books ever written, while Steven prefers the first and original book. These books changed the way I view the world and made me want to be a better person. I love the entire Callahan Series with all my heart, and have loaned and lost more copies of The Callahan Touch than I care to admit. I figure the people who kept them needed them more than me.
Amazon Link (for Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon)
Amazon Link (for The Callahan Touch)
Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
“Willie McCoy had been a jerk before he died.”
Say what you will about the later novels of Hamilton, she made me want to read MORE. I love the characters, the style, and the wry humor, even if she managed to drive even me away a few years ago. Her first Anita Blake novels are still favorites of mine (everything up to and pinnacling (is that a word) with Obsidian Butterfly).
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
“Once upon a time when the world was young there was a Martian named Smith.”
One of Steven’s favorites, and a book that touched me deeply as well, this is a sci-fi tale of a human born amongst Martians, and his unique adult perspective on humanity as he tried to adjust to life on Earth. Better than that synopsis sounds, this book is exciting and heartbreaking and wonderful and thought-provoking.
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
“I had always wondered what it felt like to die.”
(actually, that’s the first line of the main character’s voice. The actual first line details the geneology of the Persian king, and I didn’t want to type all that.)
Gates of Fire was the first audio book I ever listened to, and it is BREATHTAKING. This historical re-telling of the battle of Thermopylae is one of the most heart-wrenching, heart-stopping, heart-pounding (and other things to do with the heart organ) books that I have ever encountered.
Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour
“Major Joe Makatozie stepped into the sunlight of a late afternoon.”
“What is this”, you ask incredulously. “Is this … Tami admitting to reading something that isn’t fantasy?” Why yes, yes it is. This is a no-longer-modern-day story of a pilot captured by Soviet Russia … who escapes and uses his Native American skills to not only survive, but gain the upper hand on his previous captors. Superbly written survival fiction.
(And Now For Some Shameless Self-Promotion)
Choose: The Search For a Captain
“Lady Remora Windgates Price perched uncomfortably on the edge of the dirty bar stool and wondered if perhaps now was an appropriate time to belch.”
“Seated at his workbench, the taxidermist contemplated the bottled banshee scream in his shaking hands.”
“Riding a dragon was nothing at all like riding a horse.”
My most recent short story, currently up for critique with my writing group, Saucy Ink. Will be part of the next short story collection, and is not currently available.